In his uncle’s eyes, Paul was bright and devout and would make a good priest – like himself.
In the eyes of a certain young lady, Paul was bright and devout and would make a good husband for some lucky girl – like herself.
But Paul’s eyes were fixed elsewhere. From the time he was a young boy, he had always been amazed by and attracted to the image of Christ on the crucifix. He was overwhelmed by the great love of God he saw there: love for the world and love even for a small boy like himself, love in Christ’s eyes and love in Christ’s heart, love even in every drop of blood and in every moment of pain.
After attending to some family obligations and spending a little time in the armed forces, Paul dedicated himself to the service of God. He got permission to live at a church, working as a custodian and sacristan while also teaching children. The young man’s reputation for holiness and wisdom spread quickly and many adults came to him for counsel.
The next year, Paul tried to see the Pope and get his approval for a religious community that he wanted to start, dedicated to the passion of Christ. In the eyes of the papal guards, Paul was a crazy beggar and they turned him away.
Paul was disappointed but rededicated himself to his work. Others joined him. In time he was ordained a priest and he preached widely about the passion of Christ.
"The world lives unmindful of the sufferings of Jesus which are the miracle of miracles of the love of God. We must arouse the world from its slumber," he wrote.
The community of like-minded souls that had gathered around Paul in his quest was eventually recognized by the Pope. They became known as the Passionists and Paul became known as Paul of the Cross.
St. Paul of the Cross died in October 1775 and was canonized in 1867. Today, there are more than two thousand Passionists in 52 nations, reminding people throughout the world to keep their eyes fixed on Christ and the love of his cross.